This morning i read about the earliest followers of Jesus. As i quickly looked at some of the writings that are available on the internet, i saw that many of these were intent on promoting the various writers' points-of-view concerning the differences between orthodox Christianity as is was codified in the centuries following the spread of Christianity throughout the Roman world and the "genuine" Christianity that was practiced by the earliest followers of Jesus. Only a few seemed to be presenting objective evidence of the little that we now know of the earliest Christian practices and thinking.
As i read, and later as i prayer and meditated, it seemed that God was leading me to focus on the teachings of Jesus as we know them from the record in the gospels. There seems to be so much emphasis in our thinking as Christians on the death of Jesus as a necessary atonement for sin that the teachings of Jesus about how we are to live our lives is pushed to the background. i am not arguing for or against a doctrine of atonement or any other theological concept. Instead, i believe that i am being led to think about the practical considerations of living as a follower of Jesus.
We Christians have become so focused on our narrow doctrinal debates and our emphasis on sin and redemption that we may be forgetting the essential element of our faith: that we are followers of Jesus, a teacher who taught that these religious arguments obscure the true meaning of religion. The message of love and service is for me the central teaching of Jesus, and my focus must be on how to live out that teaching in my own life without worry about saving my own soul through adherence to a set of prescribed theological tenets. To save my life is to lose it in love for and service to others.